When and how should we open schools?

ballettmaus

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I'd argue that at the very least kids with special needs and younger children require some in-person instruction.
On the one hand, I agree. On the other, there are kids with special needs who are immune-compromised, so they're more at risk than other kids and if the kid requires that the teacher get close to them, in-person teaching doesn't sound like that good of an idea. (There also may be special needs kids who would have trouble separating from their parents after all this time at home, especially if parents can't come inside the building with them and/or kids with special needs who would have difficulties with the concept of not being allowed to get close to anyone. Either could be very tough on them mentally as well).



Israel's second wave, spread via schools, has been brought up a lot. But it's worth keeping in mind that Israel didn't just reopen schools, it did so in an irresponsible manner - full, crowded classes and a week of no masks indoors even for teenagers. This should be a model of how not to open schools, not a reason to keep them shut down completely.
I don't think anyone is shutting down schools here because of Israel. I think they're doing it because YKW is still not under control in most areas, numbers are on the rise in many areas, summer camps and athletics programs had to shut down due to outbreaks and travellers are returning home from hard hit areas like South Carolina and Florida.
If Israel saw a second wave after they were doing as well as they did with YKW, I have my doubts that most US schools would be able to fare much better given the circumstances.

As was mentioned before, it probably would have been possible if schools had more resources and/or had started to work on plans on how to safely reopen back in March/April. That didn't happen, so now here we are and I'd say it's all pretty messed up.
 

concorde

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Yeah, I think people are thinking that the private schools will be able to do whatever they want, which isn't true. There may be people who pay for private school and still get online education. Which is fine if you wanted to pay for private school either way, but if you are paying for it because you think it will mean in person schooling, the state government can still close them.
For our son, the virtual online learning for our schools was terrible last year and that was why we looked at a private school for him. At one point last week we thought the private school was going to be virtual and again evaluated. The known system had failed our son and as a parent, we refused to put him back into the same situation again. We also wanted to give our son the message that we heard him last spring and we were trying our best to get him something that worked better. We were relieved to hear the school is going 5 days a week.

Am I concerned about him going 5 days a week. A bit but I do think they have thought it through and have good safety measures in place. The school has small class size and not all kids have elected for in-classes learning - for those that will be virtual, the school has installed camera and screens in all the classrooms so the in-class kids can see the kids at home and vice versa. We have to complete a temperature checks and symptoms check list on an app each day before sending the kids off the school. They also just built a new middle school building what is scheduled to open this fall so they essentially have an extra building of classroom space to work with it. The have also modified the school schedule to longer classes each day to minimize the number of class changes. Masks for all are required. And lots and lots of hand washing is also required.

I expect that my son's exposure risk from going to school will be less than mine. I work for an essential business but have worked from home since March. In June, my office began slowly phasing back. I was to return to work on July 20 but it got pushed back to the 27th since the plexiglass dividers around cube had not been installed. Then the Governor ordered all that could work from to do it so my company had to retreat in their plans. As soon as the Governor lifts this order, I expect to be back in the office within a month. I take public transportation to work and work on the 20th floor of a 62 story building. My cube is directly under the air vent.

My husband is retired. I am the sole source of fixed income and my company provide my family's benefits. If my company tells me I gotta go back in the office, then I do it. I think most in my company feel the same way.
 
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concorde

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Montgomery County, MD ordered private schools to stay closed for in-person instruction. https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/...d-to-remain-closed-for-in-person-instruction/
And then from Pennsylvania.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania -- Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement on Friday to dispel rumors he would be shutting down schools in Pennsylvania this fall as the *********-19 ********* continues.

The statement comes as districts in the commonwealth finalize their back-to-school plans, and decide whether to fully reopen, go fully virtual, or implement a hybrid plan.

"There are widespread rumors that I will soon be announcing a statewide school building closure or cancelling classes this fall. I want to be clear: I am not closing school buildings or cancelling classes," Wolf said.

Wolf said his administration is leaving those decisions to the individual districts.

"School governing boards and administrators will determine if school buildings reopen and if classes resume in person, remotely, or a combination of the two. The best way to find out about these local decisions is to contact your school's governing board or administration," Wolf said.
 

IvoryIris

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As of yesterday, our students that choose remote learning must commit to a whole semester and will be using a boxed online program overseen by either a couple of paras or substitute teachers. We will still be expected to teach full time in person and maintain a google classroom that exactly mirrors our classroom including direct instruction, assignments, due dates, etc. The initial reasoning is for the students who get sick or quarantined. When the school goes 100% remote, the students on the boxed program will stay on it until the end of the semester. The students who were in class will receive instruction through the classroom’s google classroom.

It is a massive amount of work to maintain both in person and online platforms. I have no idea at this point how I will be able to keep up. My best teaching friend announced her retirement yesterday. She is the best early literacy teacher I know. She loves the kids, but has to look out for her health. I get it but I am sort of disheartened and overwhelmed at this point.
 

once_upon

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I don't think anyone thinks we need a zero rate before schools open.

I don't. But I do want us to have it as much under control as we can. ie not increasing numbers, deaths on the decline, hospitalizations on a decline with enough beds when we experience an increase in numbers.

We simply are not there. We could have been had this been handled better/correctly in February. Instead we had/have leadership that chose to make it political and still not doing actions that could lead to schools being in classroom learning.
 

missing

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More than 100 Knox County teachers will not be returning.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - More than 100 Knox County teachers will not be returning to the classroom this year, according to a school system board member. The board member said that the reasons for not returning varied, and included *********-19 and retirement.

KCS is expected to resume classes August 17.

The number of teachers not returning has doubled within days, according to the Knox County Education Association.





 

missing

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I saw an article in the local paper that there are collection points for school supply donations for the upcoming school year.

I always enjoy doing that and look forward to my annual trip to Staples to buy notebooks and pens and pencils and book bags, etc.

Rumor has it the local school system will be going with hybrid. So I was wondering if I should buy different sorts of supplies or if the standard stuff will get used same as normal.
 

Dobre

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There simply is not a practical choice for opening most of the schools where I live. The group that Oregon State University sent out to the city with the largest school system in the region last weekend found that 17% of the community is likely actively infected. 80% of the people they found to be positive were not yet showing symptoms. So out of 5,600 kids in that city's school district, that means about 952 kids would be likely to be infected, most thinking they are perfectly healthy, on the first day of school. Even if you lower that number among elementary kids (when we have no real evidence indicating that kids are infected at a lower rate), those numbers are still out of control.

There are at least 4 other school districts in the same county likely in a similar situation. The positivity rating in the neighboring county is even higher. So together, that is another 15,000 kids or so in this impossible situation.

17%. You likely can't even field a special education lifeskills classroom live safely with those numbers. And many of these students come from poor families with parents who have been working all spring & summer long in workplaces that now have known outbreaks. Walmart has an outbreak. (We joke here that if you are a teacher & want to run into other teachers, then you shop at Safeway. If you want to run into your students, you shop at Walmart). Even the hospital system has a new outbreak, and at the moment there is still PPE.

There is very great educational need. But what can schools do except offer to help educate these kids virtually and try to keep their staff and as many kids as possible safe so that when this outbreak is truly under control, the district still has experienced educators to help all these kids who need their help. I do agree that there are high-risk learners in the districts who should be at the very top of the priority list for face-to-face instruction ASAP, but many of those kids are also probably infected. The reality is that the ***** does not politely keep its paws off these kids who need it most. The more high-poverty & higher need the school's population is, the higher the infection rate in our area right now and the more impossible it is to provide live instruction.

I think the best schools here can do, at the moment, is to face this reality. Put time, energy, training, and resources into a distance learning curriculum that can help as many kids as possible. And support the school staff. Because at the end of the day, they are the educational support system that many of these kids need. Those kids need their teachers now, and they are going to need them in the future. No telemarketers from Timbuktu are going to move here and help these kids deal with the emotional and educational consequences from this experience. We can freak out about that or we can waste our time denying reality--which is pretty much the strategy that has gotten Umatilla County into its current impossible situation--or we can accept reality and do our very best to offer a cohesive distance learning plan for families. With non-electronic educational support options for kids who do not have access to the net. And schools can try to help educate local communities.
 
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million$momma

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Sorry if it seemed like I was picking on you; I was making a general comment inspired in part (but not totally) by your post. I applaud you for wanting the best for your kids. I recognize that neither you nor any parent can change the unfair system we have, only work it the best you can. :Respec:



I'm not sure why it would be different than any other job? It will always be subjective and based on a combination of outcomes, considering the circumstances, and evaluations.

I would like to see school districts have power to pay more to teach the "difficult" classes, and/or to award bonuses to teachers who produce exceptional outcomes. Especially in areas like special education, I've seen the really good teachers be 20x as effective as the ordinary ones. Yet get paid the same or less than the teachers mailing it in on the "easy" classes.



Wow. Did not think that would even comply with fire code.....
The school I've taught at the past 10 years is in a poverty stricken neighbourhood, surrounded with subsidized housing complexes, active gangs, high drug use, and violence (a few years back there was a man murdered overnight on the school yard). There is one small window per classroom. It does not open and is barred. I always figured that it keeps the 'bad' out and keeps us safer inside. But...not so good for helping to prevent the spread of disease.

I love teaching at this school. It is rewarding beyond description, if you are the right fit. Teachers either love it or hate it. Some of us stay for years and others quickly move on. I work very hard, all day long. Being sworn at, having chair thrown at you, having no lunch to eat because you gave it away to a starving 6 year old (there are no free lunch programs here...we provide breakfast and 2 snacks a day but no lunch)...are all frequent occurrences. But the differences you can make to so many little souls makes it all worth it.

At the end of the day I go home exhausted. But it's worth it. Should I get paid more than my friends teaching in the cushy north end schools? I've always thought a little extra would be nice. Not necessary, I love my job regardless. But it would be nice to see that someone appreciates the extra effort that needs to go towards teaching children who need a little bit more...
 

Theatregirl1122

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How do you decide what the difficult and easy classes are? My AP class requires so much more prep and work than my regular classes. I often spend a whole week of evenings prepping a new unit and was basically working 24/7 during distance learning to do the best work I could for them because they were still taking the test. There were points when I was up until 5am. But in most cases, when I get to class and hand them an activity, they engage with it and work hard and ask good questions.

My co-taught geometry classes, I still work hard to prep for, but not to the degree of AP. We like to make activities for them that get them on their feet and are games instead of worksheets. But classroom management is so much more of an issue. I have to deal with the kid trying to sleep in class, the one who asks to go to the bathroom every day and then never comes back, the kid who throws things at his friend, the girl with the attitude who has a temper tantrum if you try to take her phone. And then when we’re trying to do activities, the kids need a lot of support. Many of them have to be repeatedly coaxed to engage, a lot of our kids are special ed and will need a ton of support as they work through the activity, some of them are lacking lower level math skills so they might get the concept we’re doing with geometry but we’re constantly reteaching algebra.

So which is the easy class?
 

Susan1

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I saw an article in the local paper that there are collection points for school supply donations for the upcoming school year.

I always enjoy doing that and look forward to my annual trip to Staples to buy notebooks and pens and pencils and book bags, etc.

Rumor has it the local school system will be going with hybrid. So I was wondering if I should buy different sorts of supplies or if the standard stuff will get used same as normal.
I was thinking about this the other day when I saw the usual commercials for "stuff the bus" at one of our local t.v. stations - if kids are all online, they won't have physical papers/homework to turn in. Littler kids learn how to color and to print (with a pencil - not a printer - forget about learning cursive). If they are not physically sitting in a classroom, anybody can be doing their work for them. During a test, they can have the answers up on another computer. How does this work? How do they actually learn anything.
 

PrincessLeppard

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The students who are doing remote learning will need to come into the school to take the tests so they can be supervised. We will have a separate room for them. Apparently.
 

clairecloutier

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The teachers’ union in our district has issued a statement formally opposing the reopening of in-person school.




@Prancer That link didn’t work for me for some reason, but I found the story on the WaPo page. Heartrending. 😪


The students who are doing remote learning will need to come into the school to take the tests so they can be supervised. We will have a separate room for them. Apparently.

If I were in that situation, as a parent, I’d be tempted to explore all my legal options rather than have my kids take standardized tests without the extensive test prep they’d normally be getting in in-person school. No idea what the rules on that are in your state; I understand it’s a very gray area here in Massachusetts.
 

concorde

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The students who are doing remote learning will need to come into the school to take the tests so they can be supervised. We will have a separate room for them. Apparently.
All tests must be supervised or just just certain ones?
Will all of these test takers be in the same room or does each child get their own test taking classroom?
If they have to come into the school to takes all tests, doesn't that defeat the "why" they have elected virtual learning?
 

Susan1

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All tests must be supervised or just just certain ones?
Will all of these test takers be in the same room or does each child get their own test taking classroom?
If they have to come into the school to takes all tests, doesn't that defeat the "why" they have elected virtual learning?
I left and I was just thinking - they can do all their math "homework" in Excel. Sheesh.
 

Dobre

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I don't have any reason to think that private & public schools are being treated differently in Oregon. School buildings are required to stay virtual on a county-wide basis if those counties do not meet at least one of the two required health parameters. (Once met for the required length of time, I think districts can decide on their own). Practically speaking, I think charter schools & private schools should face even tougher oversight than public schools because charter & private schools bus kids in from outside their own counties. Which, obviously, is not a safe thing to do if the infection rates are higher in those other counties.
 

Susan1

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Funny, I thought you were talking about Montgomery County, Ohio -
 

Prancer

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I was thinking about this the other day when I saw the usual commercials for "stuff the bus" at one of our local t.v. stations - if kids are all online, they won't have physical papers/homework to turn in. Littler kids learn how to color and to print (with a pencil - not a printer - forget about learning cursive). If they are not physically sitting in a classroom, anybody can be doing their work for them. During a test, they can have the answers up on another computer. How does this work? How do they actually learn anything.
For some of this, there is technology. Assignments like coloring sheets can be printed out, colored and scanned. Teachers who are teaching on camera can require kids to have their cameras on and see them doing their work.

This assumes, of course, that the kids all have printers, know how to scan (or live with someone who does), have access to a computer all day and have physically present teachers.

When my daughter takes tests online, she is required to have her computer locked down with school-provided software and to be on camera the entire time she is taking the test. Of course, if she's sneaky enough, she can still look up answers on her phone out of camera range, among other things.

Since I don't have to answer to the state, I would have tests in different ways--timed essays or math questions while I watch, for example, or oral exams or projects instead of tests. This wouldn't work for everything, but formal exams are only one way of assessing learning and not even the most effective in most subjects--it's just the easiest.

I'm also surprised schools aren't taking advantage of existing testing centers. A lot of our online students take tests at libraries and the like; homeschooled students use them, too. There is a system in place already.

If they have to come into the school to takes all tests, doesn't that defeat the "why" they have elected virtual learning?
An hour or so isolated in a classroom here and there versus spending several hours a day five days a week in school? I would say there is a pretty substantive difference in exposure and risk there.
 

concorde

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An hour or so isolated in a classroom here and there versus spending several hours a day five days a week in school? I would say there is a pretty substantive difference in exposure and risk there.
I have several friends whose kids are freaked out by cornavirus so bad that they (the kids) refuse to leave the house - those kids range in age from 3rd grade to 8th grade. I cannot see them doing well on any test given outside the home.
 

once_upon

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Our son said that the remote learning plan hasn't really been developed as it was a last minute addition to options because of parent/teacher pressure. The school bus plan didn't seem to have been developed either.

He predicts in 2.5 weeks after school starts classrooms will shut down. According to the districts plan two or more classrooms affected and they will close the school. He predicts that two or more schools in the district will close and they will probably close the district down.

Oh and they supposedly will do testing of the classroom when a case arises. Where they get the tests from or how quickly they get results is unknown. Because you know every district in the area will have the same classroom testing plan. And there are not enough tests now and results are taking 3-7 days to get.
 

Prancer

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I have several friends whose kids are freaked out by cornavirus so bad that they (the kids) refuse to leave the house - those kids range in age from 3rd grade to 8th grade. I cannot see them doing well on any test given outside the home.
Test anxiety is a problem for all kinds of students.
 

ballettmaus

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Apparently, the elementary school at my mom's school had a very detailed plan for a hybrid model that had taken all safety measures into account (before the order came down that private schools had to start online). It would have required investments in technology, so the business director and acting principal said no. :wall:
 

Prancer

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I expect that some kids will have panic attacks between both ******** anxiety and test taking anxiety. One or the other can be very bad, but double that? Not good to say the least.
I expect some kids will. Kids have that now. When my kids were taking those wonderful standardized tests, kids threw up all the time and sometimes had hysterics.

What special exemption do you think the kids who are afraid to come to school and take tests should be given that isn't given to the kids who have always been afraid to come to school and/or take tests?
 

concorde

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I expect some kids will. Kids have that now. When my kids were taking those wonderful standardized tests, kids threw up all the time and sometimes had hysterics.

What special exemption do you think the kids who are afraid to come to school and take tests should be given that isn't given to the kids who have always been afraid to come to school and/or take tests?
It just seems strange that virtual school would still require kids to come to the school to take test.

I am just thinking about those poor kids that have both test AND ******** anxiety. Seems like such a plan is setting them up for complete failure. My friend's kids refuse to leave their yard due to ******** anxiety so not sure how she would get them to school. She is pulling her hair out trying to get the kids to do the activities they used to enjoy but both kids say they want to stay home.
 

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